Google continues to “experiment” with its advertising efforts as it looks like YouTube may begin looking for ad-blockers.
Reddit user Sazk100 posted a screenshot of a new popup on the YouTube subreddit telling them ad-blockers are no longer allowed on the website. As a result they were unable to watch videos. After getting the notification, YouTube gave Sazk100 two options: one) disable the ad-blocker or two) purchase a subscription to YouTube Premium. This does appear to be a real notice and not some prank. The moderator team on the subreddit claims a YouTube employee reached out to them confirming its legitimacy. Other outlets have had a YouTube spokesperson tell them the company is running a small global experiment urging users with ad blockers to allow ads or try YouTube Premium.
It’s unknown just how far reaching this experiment is nor do we know if YouTube will officially implement these plans. We asked the company these questions only to be given the same comment by a representative – that it's all an "experiment".
It is important to point out Google has been conducting multiple advertising tests such as the recent flood of integrated ads into Gmail accounts. As you can probably imagine, people aren’t too happy with any of them.
War against ad-blockers
For the past several years, Google has been at war with ad-blocking software. Back in early 2016, the company actually banned ad-blockers from its Play Store only to revert its decision not long after. But that hasn’t stopped Google from trying other methods to ensure you get your daily dose of commercials. Last year, Android VPN apps that didn’t use the VPNService API (Application Programming Interface) were banned from the Play Store because they were claimed to interfere with advertising. And YouTube Vanced, which offered a totally ad-free experience of the video platform, was unceremoniously taken down.
Don’t think that browser extensions are safe either. Google has been working on the third version of its Manifest API which may prevent privacy tools like uBlock Origin from working as it would remove “key read and modify data permissions”.
None of this would be so bad if YouTube ads weren’t intrusive. Unfortunately, they are. Screenshots from Twitter and Reddit posts have shown people getting as much as 10 unskippable advertisements back-to-back on certain videos. These unskippable advertisements cropped up in late 2022, and like today, a YouTube spokesperson back then said the unskippable advertisements were a part of an experiment. So it is possible Google is telling the truth and has no real intention of implementing anything.
But if it is implemented, you have to wonder if this whole thing is going to turn into a weird cat-and-mouse game where developers find a way to circumvent YouTube’s ad-blocker detector only for the platform to make stricter tech ad infinitum. Let's hope this doesn't happen.
Intrusive advertising online has gotten so bad you even have the FBI recommending people get an ad-blocker. To find out which one is the best, check out TechRadar’s list of the best ad-blockers for 2023.